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Symbol Therapy- Two weeks later, tips and pitfalls


For the past two weeks I have been practicing a form of Transpersonal therapy called Symbol Therapy (see my previous post).

I am working on two of my more complex and long term problems- the first, relating to a particular relationship and the second is related to career and life path.

Over the next few weeks I will report on some of my personal experiences with this therapy, including any tips that occur to me and any pitfalls I may have encountered. This feedback is particularly directed at people who are interested in trying symbol therapy for themselves but is also quite relevant for other forms of transpersonal therapy.

Daily practice-(If you have trouble concentrating on your symbol for two minutes- like I do):

  • Make yourself comfortable but not too comfortable. Remember you want your body relaxed and your mind alert, not asleep.
  • Draw your healing symbol (concentrating on the colour) and have it with you whilst doing your practice.
  • Carry your symbol with you at other times, especially if you may be confronted with the issue you are trying to improve.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’ve ever learnt the art of meditation you’ll realise that it takes quite a lot of practice and patience to concentrate exclusively on one thing for more that a few seconds. It is quite astounding the amount of stuff that can flow through an undisciplined mind!
  • Create a space where you can get some peace & quiet for the few minutes required and perhaps use an induction (any conscious act that will help you move into the different space), ie; lighting a candle.
  • Try to do your practice when you are not too tired and not too stressed

General points:

  • Make sure you devote quite a good deal of time and energy defining your problem and the associated feelings you experience, when embarking on this kind of therapy. It’s a good idea to keep playing back your words and checking how you feel about them. If your problem sounds too vague or your feelings are too general your results will be minimal or you will find it more difficult to commit yourself to your daily practice.
  • It is important to have a reliable measure for your suffering, especially so that you can measure your progress. I found the wording provided in the ‘table to measure your suffering’ in chapter five didn’t seem relevant to my particular issues. I ended up using my problem symbols as guides alone. I will formulate my own table in the future though, as I think this type of guide has a valuable place alongside the symbol work to help measure progress.
  • If you are working on a complex problem remember to start off addressing the whole issue in the first two weeks then move onto deeper levels later on. For example:
    By the end of the two weeks the problem symbol for my relationship issue had grown from a petrified walnut to an entire petrified tree plus walnut! !
    Funnily enough I wasn’t surprised or too disappointed. My feedback was not that my problem had worsened but that the larger scale of my problem was shown to me. It felt simply that my original definition of the problem was addressing only a small aspect of the whole problem and I needed to go back to the broader issue.
  • Remember to be open to changes and improvement in the situation that may not occur the way you expect or even originally hoped for. For example:
    Relating to my relationship issue, in the back of my mind I expected (and secretly desired) all tensions and difficulties with that person to simply melt away. Instead I found an irresistible urge to speak up for myself and confront the person over an issue that had arisen during the first week. I had been avoiding confrontation with the person for a long time and all of a sudden I was compelled to voice my anger to them. Why? Because that was what I really needed to do to kick off on the road to healing.
  • Another point I noticed was that the feelings that my problem symbol brought up for me helped to inform me when redefining my problem the second time around. For example:
    In the first two weeks I was addressing feelings of irritability and annoyance and I noted in my journal that my problem symbol felt very hostile towards me. When I did my two week assessment and my problem symbol changed, I noted upon drawing the tree that it evoked feelings of sadness and desolation. So I have changed my wording to address these feelings first. There is no doubt that I experience more angry feelings with regards to this issue but I believe that the sadness came first and is more closely related to the whole aspect of the problem.
  • Keep a journal with drawings of your symbols and notes on anything that comes to you (as a small but worthwhile side track go here for some great inspiring video tips on creating your own art journal). As well as assisting you in remembering your thoughts and feelings it will help you open up to the subtle changes you experience or the chance encounters or the little sign posts directing you towards a solution.


  • The colour of the symbol really is important.
    I found that the colour of the symbol was like the vehicle that carried the symbol through my body. For instance I was given a silver stone for my healing symbol related to my career issue. When I breathed the bright silver through my body I felt light and bright and far less serious, which was very healing.

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